Resources for Responding to Systemic Racism
Discipleship Ministries has collected these resources to help churches address the topics of racism, systemic oppression, violence, and more.
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On Tuesday, January 19, at 2 p.m. CST, join the "I'm Black. I'm Christian. I'm Methodist." writers and editor Rudy Rasmus in a robust discussion moderated by GCORR Interim General Secretary Garlinda Burton.
In the book, ten Black women and men explore life through the lens of compelling, personal accounts. They are leaders whose lives are tangible demonstrations of the power of a divine purpose and evidence of what grace really means in the face of hardship, disappointment, and determination.
By Junius B. Dotson
Many spiritual and political leaders need restoration having given cover and comfort to an administration that has laid ruin to truth, toppled innumerable norms, and sent snaking fissures spreading across the foundation of the world’s oldest democracy.
Perhaps, however, the best of us can emerge from our response to these dark impulses, but only if we can muster the courage to speak truth to the wide swaths of people in our pews and under our pastoral care about the one, true transformative Jesus of Nazareth.
Advent seems to be a season focused on awaiting a kin-dom world that is not yet. To properly prepare for what is coming, however, we need a clear view of what is. Advent is not about getting out of the world, but about seeing the world as it is so that we can long for what might be. So, how do we blend our desire to end racism and our longing for the coming of the Christ in this most holy season?
The Rev. Brittney D. Stephan is the Associate Director for Multi-Cultural Vibrancy in the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church. Her office has created a wonderful resource called Birthing a Promise, Building a Movement. This online resource has what some call a reverse Advent Calendar, where individuals do something each day during the season rather than get something. The resource includes a series of reflections and readings built around the Advent scriptural texts with an antiracism focus. We applaud Rev. Stephan and the Michigan Conference and invite you to take a look at this amazing resource.
A new anti-racism online course through GCORR is now available, focusing on defining, identifying, and practicing anti-racism. The “30 Days of Anti-racism” campaign has also begun, which offers ways to engage and an invitation to reflect and share on social media. Discipleship Ministries and Path 1 invite you to move deeper into discipleship through working to become more anti-racist in the ways that we think and behave so that the world is transformed.
God calls us to stand as witnesses to this dual pandemic. As laity we are 99.2% of the church and our voices matter. We cannot sit as observers to these events. We will not go back to normal. We cannot be silent. We are vital to the unfolding of God’s hope for us, to be people who hold one another and the communities around us, in love. Our acts of witnessing are not those of a spectator or to record history, but to take action and cause change.
I write this brief comment with every hope that George Floyd will not have died in vain. The violent and brutal act of his murder and that of so many others must not be forgotten and must by all moral and political force become the location for a societal current of change in police practice and a material commitment that Black lives matter. That human rights are crucial should go without saying, except for the fact that they are so often ignored and in so many systemic and structural ways, perhaps given voice, but substantively denied.
Providing pastoral leadership with children often requires finding ways to answer tough questions. It seems that 2020 has had many days where difficult questions have been asked. Parents and caregivers are asking how to talk to children about the racial divide in this country and the protests against the systemic evil of racism. We have a responsibility to children to listen and truly hear their questions and offer a Christian response that demonstrates repentance and provides hope.
“Two Sundays after the murder of George Floyd. Again, no mention of BLM, George, Ahmaud, or race from our pulpit,” she said. “I’m heartbroken. If the Christian faith has nothing to say at a time like this, makes me wonder if it’s got anything to say about anything.”
That was what an active United Methodist layperson said to me last week. If we white preachers sit on the sidelines during the current national debate over white supremacist systems of violence against people of color, if we allow our congregations to miss out on the saving dimensions of Christ’s work, we are in danger of impugning and sidelining the gospel of Jesus Christ.
United Methodists around the world gathered online to pray and lament for the racism in our midst. Hear God's call to join in the work of dismantling racism and pressing on to freedom for all.
In this Kairos moment of protest and awakening, Discipleship Ministries and other agencies and bodies of the United Methodist Church are providing resources and guidance on how to become anti-racist individuals and churches. Please seek out the help you need in this time of transformation. The Worship Team of Discipleship Ministries believes, however, that such a change will not happen unless the whole process is bathed in prayer every step along the way. To that end, we will be providing daily prayers to help keep us all centered on the journey ahead.
Our nation is grieving. We are lamenting the violent actions of authorities, racism, and systemic oppression that has been on display in recent weeks. Meanwhile, most of us have not gathered in our church buildings for nearly three months during the global pandemic. As we make plans to regather for in-person worship, this virtual conference is designed to prepare your congregation to navigate these challenges.
By Junius B. Dotson
My friend’s note had a veneer of concern. “Just checking to see (if) you and family are safe.” the text began.
It then took a curious but familiar turn: “We can disagree and voice our concerns. We can perceive things differently and still be kind, respectful and polite. Violence and destruction just incite more violence and destruction. And eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth only benefits Visine and Crest.”
Some come from large churches; some come from small ones. Some come from white preachers; some from preachers of color. Some might seem bold, and others somewhat timid. But all chose to speak about the virus of racism that has sickened our society for far too long. It is time to speak. Listen to these preachers and take heart for the movement of the Spirit in The United Methodist Church. Listen and be encouraged to speak a hard truth.